Strength for Today and Hope for Tomorrow

Does it ever seem the world has conspired against you? The prophet Jeremiah had reason to, if anybody ever had cause to feel that way for more than 40 years. His message was from God but, highly unpopular. He warned Israel if they did not repent God would allow Babylon to conquer them, destroy the Temple, and take them into captivity. They didn’t and He did.

Despite persistent rejection, Jeremiah proclaimed the word of God for at least 40 years. His ministry lasted from a time when Judah still had the opportunity to change its ways and avoid punishment, to the time when judgment finally came as Jerusalem was destroyed, and the people taken into exile (586 B.C.) Even then there was no “I told you so.”

Two famous artists – Michelangelo and Rembrandt – both depicted the prophet Jeremiah in their paintings. In both depictions Jeremiah is sitting, his hand on his face, and his eyes downcast. It depicts his grief over the hard hearts of the people. It was their condition, not his, causing his forlorn look.

Jeremiah was mocked, ridiculed, beating, and imprisoned. He is known as the weeping prophet, but he never wept publically. Yet he wrote: “This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning.”  Lamentations 3:21 – 23

In 1923 Thomas O. Chisholm read those words of Jeremiah and was inspired to write the words to that grand old hymn (remember those) containing these lines:

“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth. Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.”

Jeremiah was mocked, ridiculed, belittled, and made an outcast by the mob whose message was “thus saith the mob,” in contrast to Jeremiah’s message of, “Thus saith the Lord.” 

For 40 years Jeremiah endured, strengthened by recalling God’s word and will which inspired hope, the Lord’s mercies, and His unfailing compassion. He had a vice grip on those resources. Understandably at times he got alone and wept. Even then his grief was for Israel, not himself.

God’s faithfulness is revealed in three ways: 

First, despite our unfaithfulness, God is at work.

Second, despite our unfaithfulness, God is just. 

And despite our unfaithfulness, God is gracious.

Pitch your mental tent over those thoughts, and move into the tent.

God is at work, He is just, and He is gracious. If those traits sustained Jeremiah in his hail storm of difficulty, they are sufficient to provide for us. Inscribe those on the scroll of your mind and read them often. Perhaps they are not now germane to your life, but store them up as a future resource. 

Focus on this exhortation for Jeremiah.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

At issue is our trust of the Lord.